Bell, sculpture checks as demolitions proceed

REDUCED TO RUBBLE: The front entrance is all that remains of The Press building in Cathedral Square.
REDUCED TO RUBBLE: The front entrance is all that remains of The Press building in Cathedral Square.

Christ Church Cathedral's earthquake-damaged bells may be England-bound.

Dean Peter Beck said yesterday the 12 bells, manufactured in England, could require specialist repairs.

Their exact condition was not known, but they were all "in one piece", he said.

"They haven't been broken or shattered, but they've clearly been damaged. The consultants here will have to have a look at them and see if they are in such a state that they need to go back to the UK," he said. "Obviously, we hope that's not necessary because it's all a matter of cost, but there's a very real possibility that once they've been looked at and tested, they may have to go back."

The 12 bells were installed in 1978, replacing the original 10-bell set dedicated in 1881.

They were cast in Loughborough, England, and much of the metal came from the bells of Coventry's Holy Trinity Church.

Beck hoped to recover the bells next week, along with Terry Stringer's The Risen Christ sculpture, which survived the quake, but would be moved for "safekeeping".

Meanwhile, a 130-metre crane is being used to demolish the 26-storey Hotel Grand Chancellor.

During a tour of the red zone yesterday, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority demolition manager Baden Ewart said preliminary work was under way on the car park and retail space next to the main structure. Full demolition would begin in about two weeks.

Other notable buildings likely to be demolished included the Brannigans building, on the corner of Gloucester St and Oxford Tce, the Farmers building, and Latimer Square's AMI House.

Ewart said the Forsyth Barr building, the Christchurch public library and most of New Regent St were likely to be saved.

The fate of many central-city buildings, including the Crowne Plaza, Clarendon Tower, and the PricewaterhouseCoopers building, remains unknown. "As the engineers are getting into buildings and completing quite detailed assessments, they're finding some buildings are fine, but for others, there's evidence that would suggest they will require substantial repair or demolition," Ewart said.

The Press